Heckling apt, not insolent


To those who reprimanded the raucous attendees of last week’s vice presidential debate screening, wake up. It was a vibrant example of democracy in action, and you should be proud not preachy.

The audience’s active involvement transformed the debate into an energetic discourse akin to a town hall meeting.

Aside from last week’s debate, my other most invigorating political experience was watching a Kerry-Bush debate in a New York bar. Each was perfectly suited to the lively discourse and criticism central to political life.

The camaraderie was thrilling. Amid so many lies it was empowering to negate them collectively.

I bonded with a stranger behind me over one of Palin’s many logical fallacies: her smug assertion that she could solve a problem while at once attacking “Obiden,” as she once called him, for dwelling on cause and history.

It is precisely because people heard Palin’s words that they laughed and talked, not because they resisted hearing them. People laughed because they heard what she said, and what she said was absurd.

Had the audience laughed at substantive ideas that merely clashed with liberal ideology, then a reprimand might be appropriate. But such was not the case.

The editorial board’s claim that the playful heckling and natural reactions were “unintelligent” is misguided.

Reacting and conversing is central to learning, and learning doesn’t just take place formally in a lecture hall.

It was not a mockery of her beliefs. It was a mockery of her incompetence and levity in the face of dire issues she deems herself qualified to tackle, but clearly is not qualified to discuss. She spoke exclusively in empty or incoherent clichés, and the audience responded, “We see right through you.”

Mockery and comedy are integral to incisive criticism. The laughter was both a visceral and intellectual response to Palin’s caricatured performance. Listen to her speak two years ago –– even her accent is phony.

At moments I couldn’t shake the feeling that instead of a real debate I was watching its parody on SNL.

To those who wanted to watch in a formal atmosphere, it is you, not those who approached it socially, that should remain in your homes and watch in silence next time around.

Activism is loud and uncomfortable, not prim and polite. It is discomfort that most challenges people, and what challenges us, teaches us.

In the face of so many accusations of student political apathy, last week’s debate made me glow. It proved that, at least for one evening, no such apathy exists at Whitman.